There's nothing like a sip of pleasantly bitter Campari or a lemony, palate-cleansing sgroppino before an Italian meal. From old standbys like negronis to new twists on Italian classics, we've rounded up our favorite Italian-inspired cocktail recipes.
When it comes to Italian cocktails, it doesn't get much more classic than the negroni. The drink, first created for Count Camillo Negroni in 1919 at Florence's Café Casoni, is simply a mixture of equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth. The resulting drink is bitter, a little sweet, and a stunning shade of pink.
From this simple base can come a universe of variations. Swapping out the gin for sparkling wine, which first happened at Bar Basso in Milan in 1968, create a negroni sbaliagto, or "bungled negroni." To make a Boulevardier, the gin is replaced with bourbon.
Further modification of the negroni template produces even more drinks. The Contessa the Campari and sweet vermouth for Aperol and dry vermouth, while the amber negroni replaces those ingredients with Braulioa and Lillet.
Another classic Italian cocktail is the bellini, a mix of peach puree and sparkling wine. We like to intensify the peach flavor by adding peach brandy. For an autumnal variation, mix prosecco with a mulled cider syrup and fig vodka.
If you want something refreshing, try sgroppino—a slushy combination of lemon sorbet, vodka, and prosecco that is common in Italy as a palate cleanser, a dessert, or a pre-dinner drink. Whisking the ingredients together creates a chilly, frothy libation.
Find all these drinks and more in our collection of great Italian-inspired cocktails.